Christian Jarrett’s 99U post on dressing for work touched off a ton of different perspectives on clothing’s role in the workplace. Reader 123elle described her experiences with experimenting with dress code, and it’s fascinating stuff:

I’m female, work as a marketing communications writer. I was freelancing a lot several years ago, so that meant walking into departments full of strangers in some of the larger companies. The departments were almost entirely female. I am very tall, thin, white; I tried to be non-controversial and make clothes a neutral issue by dressing in dull colors — grays, blacks and navy; very basic styles.

One morning I grabbed a skirt I didn’t usually wear to the office: it was a pencil skirt, slightly shorter than my usual mid-knee; it was light gray wool pinstripe and in the back, a large, black grosgrain bow whose long ties were stitched down the back of the skirt to the hem. The minute I walked in in that skirt, all of the woman started talking to me; complimenting me and being friendly. It was an “office sexy” skirt; very conservative but the bow made it flirtatious, and the women just loved it.

For one day I was a “clothing celebrity” and people went out of their way to chat me up, seek me out, and ask my opinion on work matters; find out about my life etc. The next day I was back in my rather dull wardrobe, and people retreated (but not entirely) to the distance they often keep with freelancers and temps.

Read The Smart Creative’s Guide To Dressing for Work in full for more on the psychology of dressing for the workplace.

  • Marie Soares

    It’s sad we’ve become this shallow…

    • Sean Blanda

      I wouldn’t say it’s shallowness. We take lots of cues from clothes on someone’s role in the workplace. And, as pointed out in the piece, clothing can have an impact on creativity as well.

    • lesterhein

      This comes back to ‘signalling’ and it’s the same reason men in suits get served at a bar before those in t-shirts.

      I’ve tested it for myself, and it definitely does make a difference.

      The way I see it we can either be pissed because of the way it is or work it to your advantage.

  • Martin Sandström

    Nice real-life example. Choosing wisely how to, and how much to convey your style pays off. And pushing a little bit further than the norm usually pays off even more, as seen in this post. It’s all explained at

blog comments powered by Disqus